Gangotri temple is one among the Char Dham temples in Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand of India frequented by thousands of pilgrims every year.
The abode of goddess Ganga, Gangotri temple is situated on the bank of Bhagirathi river 19Km away from Gangotri glacier. Gangotri glacier is the origin of sacred river Ganga.
The Gangotri temple all snow white situates 3,048 meters above sea level in Uttarkashi district and houses an idol of goddess Ganga along with other deities. The holy pilgrimage Gangotri has spiritual environment attracting sages and other pilgrims for meditative purpose. Gangotri is the second of four sacred pilgrimages in Uttarakhand in the traditional pilgrim route.
Traditional pilgrims first visit Yamunotri, then come to Gangotri, pay visit to Kedarnath and finally go to Badrinath. Gangotri temple devoted to goddess Ganga was established by Gorkha commander Amar Singh Thapa in 18th Century. Hindu pilgrims perform shraddha at Gaumukh of Gangotri glacier or nearby Gangotri temple premises. Shraddha is the last rites of deceased ancestors. Gaumukh – the snout of Gangotri glacier in the form of cow’s mouth, is usually covered by religious tourists performing shraddha and pooja.
The travelers get captivated by the surrounding beauty – the tall snow clad Himalayan peaks, huge Gangotri glacier, mesmerizing Bhagirathi river and pleasing Gangotri temple jointly bless the visitors. Spectacular beauty of Gangotri could not be described in words but must be experienced at least once in a life time.
Haridwar is the gateway to CharDham. There are numerous tour providers in Haridwar, Dehradun, Rishikesh and even other cities of India offering packages for chhota Char Dham yatra (tour). It is highly recommended to consult tour providers and not visit Char Dham individually as it being a dangerous route.
Legendary history of Gangotri
Legend of Gangotri temple connects with goddess Ganga coming to earth to swipe the ashes of King Bhagirath’s ancestors. In ancient times, King Sagar – the grandfather of King Bhagirath performed Ashwamedh Yagya. The horse for the yagya was to be taken around the globe before performing its pooja. Indra Devta – the king of heaven/paradise, threatened of the strength of King Sagar and his respect on earth after performing Ashwamedh Yagya, ordered his army that the horse to be taken away from the stable and left somewhere far away. Indra’s army followed the instructions and tied the horse on a tree nearby sage Kapil. Sage Kapil was deep into meditation. When it was time for the horse to be moved from stable to be taken around the earth, King Sagar and his family was tensed. King Sagar ordered his thousand sons to go get the horse from anywhere it is. Sagar’s sons found the horse tied besides sage Kapila and started destroying Kapil’s house in fury. Sage Kapila, realizing the incident in his meditation opened his eyes and all thousand sons of King Sagar turned into ashes in a second.
When King Bhagiratha realized the pathetic death of his father and uncles, he decided to perform the last rites. He went to sage Kapila, asked for pardon and asked how he could perform the last rights. Sage Kapila suggested Bhagiratha to call goddess Ganga to swipe away the ashes. Bhagiratha meditated, Ganga appeared and accepted to come down to earth to swipe ashes of the deceased ancestors of King Bhagiratha. Ganga requested lord Shiva to reduce her force while coming on earth. Lord Shiva accepted and sat down to hold the forceful water streams in his hair locks. River Ganga came fulfill the wishes of King Bhagirath, dividing into 12 tributaries and resting over lord Shiva’s hair locks. The Gangotri temple is established with devotion towards the river goddess Ganga.
Adi Guru Shankaracharya sanctified the temple and later in 18th Century, Gorkha general Amar Singh Thapa built the temple.